A brand association is any mental linkage to the brand. Brand association may include, e.g., product attributes, customer benefits, uses, life-styles, product classes, competitors and countries of origins. The association not only exists but also has a level of strength. The brand position based upon association how they differ from the competition. The brand position is based upon association and how they differ from the competition.
An association can affect the processing and recall of information, provide a point of differentiation, provide a reason to buy, create positive attitudes and feelings and serve as the basis of extensions. The associations that a well-established brand name provides can influence purchase behavior and effect user satisfaction. Even when the associations are not important to brand choices they can reassure, reducing the incentive to try other brands.
Brand association can be classified into three major types of increasing scope:1) attributes, 2) benefits, and 3) attitudes.
- The first type of brand associations are brand attributes. Attributes are those descriptive features that characterize a product or service. Attributes can be distinguished according to how directly they relate to product or service performance. Along these lines, attributes can be classified into product-related and non-product-related attributes.
Product-related attributes are defined as the ingredients necessary for performing the primary product or service function sought by consumer. Hence, they relate to product’s physical composition or a service’s requirements. Product-related attributes determine the nature and level of product performance.
Non-product-related attributes are defined as external aspects of the product or service that relate to its purchase or consumption. Non-product-related attributes may affect the product performance. The four main types of non-product-related attributes are price information, packing or product appearance information, user imagery and usage imagery.
- The second type of brand associations is brand benefits. Benefits are the personal value and meaning that consumers attach to the product or service. Benefits can be further distinguished into three categories according to the underlying motivations to which they relate : functional benefits, experiential benefits, symbolic benefits.
- Functional benefits are the more intrinsic advantages of product or service consumption and usually correspond to the product-relate attributes.
- Experiential benefits relate to what is felt, when the product or service is used and they usually also correspond to both product-related attributes as well as non-product-related attributes such as usage imagery.
- Symbolic benefits are the more extrinsic advantage of product or service consumption. They usually correspond to non-product-related attributes and relate to underlying needs for social approval or personal expression.
- The third and most abstract types of brand association are brand attitudes. Brand attitudes are defined in terms of consumers’ overall evaluations of a brand. Brand attitudes are important because they often form the basis for actions and behaviour that consumers take with the brand (e.g., brand choice) consumers’ brand attitudes generally depend on specific considerations concerning the attributes and benefits of the brand. It is important to note the brand attitudes can be formed on the basis of benefits about product-related attributes and functional benefits and/or beliefs about non-product-related attributes and symbolic and experiential benefits.